September 20, 2021
11:00-Noon | Trail Users of a Different Kind
The “What’s, Whys and Wherefores” of horses on the trail and how everyone can feel comfortable. We never know who we may meet on the trail. Equestrians share trails and portions of many other trails in Pennsylvania and the nation. Sustainability, layout and maintenance needs as well as the pluses and considerations of doing so will be discussed as part of this session.
Gwen Willis | Trail Stewardship Program Director, Pennsylvania Equine Council
Becoming concerned about the loss of access to public lands for equine use across the country in 2001, Gwen got involved with the Pennsylvania Equine Council (PEC), a grass roots volunteer organization that represents the equine owners in Pennsylvania.
Gwen developed and conducts 3-Day and 1-Day Trail Stewardship Workshops to prepare volunteers interested in preserving shared-use non-motorized trails. The Workshops also train volunteers and agency personnel to work together in order to maintain sustainable trails and to possibly layout and construct reroutes or connectors, if needed, to bypass unsustainable portions of the trails. 2-Day Packing Clinics are also offered for a more “land friendly” approach for packing gravel, tools and materials for trail work. Other educational programs have also been produces from 1 hour to one day regarding “Leave no Trace/Ride Smart” to educate non-motorized trail users about appropriate behavior and shared use ethics while enjoying our outdoors.
Bud Willis | Pennsylvania Equine Council
11:00-Noon | The Art of Leveraging/Rural Development Hub
Everyone wants a local trail, but trails are not a commodity that you can buy on Amazon and have it delivered to the local corridor. Our local trails are “Made in America” by Americans and support the American economy. Trail projects start with someone developing a dream and conveying the dream to others. This session will show techniques and examples that transformed trail dreams into reality by leveraging what organizations and communities had into what they needed. This session will also describe the obstacles and hardships that needed to be conquered to obtain the dream. Current real-life projects in Northwestern Pennsylvania will be illustrated and used to stimulate conversations and audience participation.
Ron Steffey | Trail Consultant, Steffey Trail Connections
Ron Steffey has been producing trail connections for decades. Steffey Trail Connections is a trail consulting business where Ron assists others to plan, construct, and maintain sustainable trails. He has managed trail projects that have included the purchasing and railbanking of railroad corridors, transforming over 70 miles of rails into trails and renovating century old tunnels. Most of these projects have involved volunteers that have dramatically reduced the cost of both construction and maintenance. Ron’s strong advocacy for trails continues to connect people to the natural Pennsylvania environment.
Kim Harris | Project Manager, Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry, and Tourism
11:00-Noon | Active Erie Transportation Plan
Erie County and the City of Erie partnered on the development of the City’s first ever active transportation plan, aimed at creating a better environment for people walking and bicycling in Erie. The City used field views and GIS analysis to map the presence of sidewalks on every block. To evaluate the environment for bicycling, the team developed a comprehensive Level of Traffic Stress (LTS) analysis for every street in the City taking into account the effect of street dimensions, speed, parking, and bicycle facilities. This is likely the first citywide application of the LTS approach in Pennsylvania, and it is designed to ensure that all future transportation projects in Erie are designed for people of all ages and abilities. Through a comprehensive public engagement program featuring conventional meetings, an online survey, site visits, a stakeholder committee, and a City-wide mobile workshop on bikes, Erie residents had the opportunity to learn about the project and provide meaningful input. The plan recommends an aspirational yet realistic network of primary bike routes throughout the City, a comprehensive sidewalk installation and repair program, integration of public art, and several policy and program improvements to set Erie up for long-term success
Kathy Wyrosdick | Director of Planning and Neighborhood Resources, City of Erie
LeAnn Parmenter | Traffic Engineer, City of Erie
Emily Aloiz | Planning Program Administrator, Erie County Department of Planning and Community Development
Jeffrey Riegner | Vive President, Whitman, Requardt & Associates, LLP
11:00-Noon | Panel Discussion: Water Trails
Fred Tutman | Riverkeeper
Fred was born and raised along the Patuxent River as were seven generations of his ancestors before him. As the Patuxent Riverkeeper, an organization he founded in 2004, Fred is a grassroots community advocate for clean water in Maryland’s longest and deepest intrastate waterway. He is among the longest serving Waterkeepers in the Chesapeake region and the only African American Waterkeeper in the nation. He lives on an active farm located near the Patuxent that has been his family’s ancestral home for nearly a century. Prior to founding Patuxent Riverkeeper in 2004, Fred operated a business that provided professional media and mass communication services internationally, including a long stint working with and advising traditional healers in West Africa and coverage of the Falkands conflict in Argentina on assignment by the BBC. Fred also worked as a volunteer activist on the Patuxent for over 20 years until the momentum of the volunteer environmental work overcame his media career and the challenge of Riverkeeping beckoned. Fred is a recipient of numerous awards and recognitions for his work on behalf of environmental causes and issues in Maryland. He also serves on a variety of Boards, Task Forces and Commissions related to the work of protecting the Patuxent and the natural environment. Among them, Fred serves on the Board of the Environmental Integrity Project, as a Governor appointed Commissioner on the State’s Patuxent River Commission and on the Board of Waterkeeper Alliance, the international group that licenses Waterkeepers. After a late life sojourn into law school, Fred is now an adjunct instructor at historic St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where he teaches an upper-level course in Environmental Law and Policy. He is an avid kayaker, backpacker, and adventurer. In his spare time, he does trail maintenance on the Appalachian Trail, explores the Patuxent River by kayak, blacksmiths, writes and works on his farm.
Frank Maguire | Program Director, Trails and Outdoor Recreation, Pennsylvania Environmental Council
11:00-Noon | Interscholastic Cycling League: Mountain Biking as a Path to Stewardship Engagement
The PA Interscholastic Cycling League is putting kids and families on mountain bikes in a way never before seen in Pennsylvania. The league’s goal of integrating stewardship addresses youth development, but shows a path to stewardship engagement unlike anything seen before in PA as well. League founders do not see a separation between stewardship and riding, but rather that both are part of the mountain bike experience and want to share this vision with land managers and trail professionals. The League also recognizes that Pennsylvania is severely lacking in “gateway trail” experiences that provide easy, fun, and safe introductions to mountain biking, and that constituents demand for those experiences will only grow while a demand for additional trails and enhancements grows too. The League’s commitment to stewardship is a reflection of this understanding as well. This session will help parks and rec professionals and land managers better understand the PICL model and the opportunities that working with PICL present for their organization.
Mike Kuhn | PA Interscholastic Cycling League
Mike is the founder and executive director of the PA Interscholastic Cycling League (PICL, yes, “pickle”). From PICL inception and through its first three seasons, Mike has led the call for integral stewardship and advocacy programming for the league. Mike’s leadership on this front not only resulted in PICL’s focus, but is leading the National Interscholastic Cycling Association’s push to integrate stewardship in all 25 leagues across the USA. Early returns from PICL stewardship programming, the Teen Trail Corps, are astounding for such a young organization — the league participants
11:00-Noon | Trail Etiquette: It's Really About Trail Safety
Rail trails struggle with educating their users about trail safety. Here are some measures to try, and why trail etiquette is important.
Deb Thompson | President, Montour Trail Council
Ms. Thompson has been a long-time volunteer for the Montour Trail Council, and has retired after a career in environmental consulting. She is now President of the MTC, and only one of a large team of very dedicated volunteers.
1:00-1:45 | PennDOT Connects: Moving Forward in Partnership
This session will provide information on the PennDOT Connects Process. Participants will learn how a partnership with PennDOT can be a positive experience for their communities; the importance of crafting and updating current plans such as bike/ped plans and comprehensive plans to gain support for the request; and funding opportunities that can be combined into a project to achieve requests, such as sidewalk additions.
Lyndsie DeVito | District Planner/Sr. Civil Engineer, PennDot District 1
Courtney Lyle | Planning & Program Manager, PennDot District 1
1:00-1:45 | All Together Now: Introducing Pennsylvania's Trail Management App
Building on the successes of GoToTrails and The Circuit Pipeline Tool over the last 8 years, Environmental Planning & Design (EPD) and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) have developed a searchable state-wide Trail Implementation Manager (TIM) database which houses thousands of miles of trails within the Commonwealth along with significant attribute data about each segment (currently comprised of over 1,000 segments). The TIM will be introduced to the public for the first time through this session, giving attendees a first look and insight into the latest, most comprehensive trail implementation tool in Pennsylvania. This tool raises the bar on traditional trail management by geolocating, compiling and housing over 2,000 miles of trails, displayed in an interactive map and searchable database. This session will explore the trail management tool in all aspects: how the TIM came to be, the development of the tool, and how users will be able to engage with the database.
Katie Kovalchik | Director of Landscape Architecture, Environmental Planning & Design
Katie is a registered landscape architect and has been working on various trail feasibility study, planning and construction projects across Pennsylvania for the past 6 years. Katie holds her Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from Penn State University where she focused on working with people in their places which has translated into her professional work of helping communities connect and create urban spaces and cohesive trail connections. She has worked with over five communities throughout Pennsylvania to create purposeful places and trail connections in order to bring the surrounding communities to larger trail networks and open spaces. Her recent work with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council in developing the Trail Implementation Manager (TIM), the value of the tool and the future trajectory will be the focus as she moderates this discussion.
Andrew JQ Schwartz | Studio Director, Environmental Planning & Design
Frank Maguire | Program Director, Trails and Outdoor Recreation, Pennsylvania Environmental Council
1:00-3:00 | Addressing Nature-Based Placemaking, Active Transportation and Health within your Community Plans - how one Main Street Program is Doing it All
The Borough of Quakertown has utilized their Main Street designation to develop an evolved revitalization strategy that has identified Nature-Based Placemaking as a key priority. Learn how the community is benefiting when outdoor recreational activities, health, and wellness are incorporated into a strategy. This session will highlight the Nature-Based Placemaking concept, as well as the WalkWorks program, which provides funding and technical assistance to select communities to develop and adopt an Active Transportation Plan or similar policy. Hear firsthand from Quakertown Alive! about how they have benefitted from a WalkWorks grant, as they discuss the importance of connecting different community plans, processes, results, and recommended actions, and how their work can be adapted by other communities.
Julia Fitzpatrick | Executive Director, Pennsylvania Downtown Center, Inc.
Julie has been with PDC since 2005 and was appointed as the Ex. Director in July 2019. She has been involved with a variety of projects in communities all over the commonwealth, including community visioning, developing regional downtown revitalization strategies, establishing tourism infrastructure plans, and developing business improvement district plans and other strategic planning activities. She also provides board and committee education and technical assistance to designated DCED Keystone Communities Main Street and Elm Street programs, as well as to communities that are non-designated. Currently, she is working with PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) on the concept of Nature-Based Placemaking and other fun projects. She has a Master of Science degree in Community and Regional Planning, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History and Anthropology from Temple University and has done coursework in their landscape architecture program.
Justin Lehman | Public Health Program Administrator, Pennsylvania Department of Health Bureau of Health Promotion and Risk Reduction
Naomi Naylor | Executive Director, Quakertown Alive! – a Main Street Program
1:00-1:45 | A Unique Approach to Recreation and Outfitting Along the Schuylkill River
The Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area (SRG) has been delivering successful outdoor recreation and education programs on the Schuylkill River and the Schuylkill River Trail for decades. Paddling, hiking, biking and youth engagement programs have been some of the hallmarks in conveying the organization’s mission to residents, communities, and visitors. One of the main ingredients needed to make these programs and events happen is a viable local outfitter to partner with to support the recreational components.
While outdoor recreation has blossomed in the region over the last decade, the river and trail corridor has not seen recreation focused outfitters succeed at the same rate. Over the years, outfitters along the Schuylkill have experienced varying degrees of success in gaining a foothold and maintaining stability. Although outfitters have existed for decades on adjacent waterways like the Lehigh and Delaware, the Schuylkill has not been as fortunate.
In 2020, in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, SRG’s most reliable recreational partner closed its doors. Left with very few options and in need of support for annual events and programs, the SRG embarked on a project to establish a new unique partnership that would not only support and benefit our programming, but also the broader community and region as well as other partners along the Schuylkill.
During this presentation participants will hear how SRG leveraged an existing partnership and used a little creativity to create a regional, multi-focused outfitter. This session will look at the formation of Take It Outdoors, LLC, a non profit outfitter and how the collaboration between the two organizations is expanding the SRG’s capacity for recreational programming and its reach to diverse populations and new constituents locally and beyond.
Tim Fenchel | Deputy Director, Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area
Tim has been with the Schuylkill River Greenways NHA since 2006 serving in several roles and functions over the years. He has over 20 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector and over the last fifteen years with SRG has managed multiple grant programs and dozens of local and regional projects. His passion is for the Schuylkill River Restoration Fund, a grant program that supports water quality projects throughout the watershed. He is also currently working on a project to develop a series of recreational hubs throughout river town communities along the Schuylkill which recently included the creation of a non-profit partner outfitter, Take It Outdoors. When not on the job Tim enjoys spending time with his family, fishing, traveling, hanging out by rivers and a good campfire.
Noah Phillips | Director, Take It Outdoors
1:00-1:45 | Trails and Trees: Tree Risk, Tree Preservation, and Plant Health Care in a Trail System
Trees are an asset to any trail system, helping to manage storm water, regulate temperature, prevent soil erosion, and act as wind breaks. Trees also contribute to an aesthetically pleasing hiking experience. Properly caring for and maintaining trees along a trail is an essential part of a comprehensive preventative maintenance program for any trail property. In this session, we’ll discuss the appropriate techniques for maintaining the health and safety of trees along a trail, how to spot and handle potential tree risks, and important steps you can take to preserve the trees in your trail system.
Mark Spitulski | ISA Certified Arborist, MKS Arborist Services
Mark Spitulski, former Director of Facilities and Grounds at Asbury Woods Nature Center and owner of MKS Arborist Services, earned a degree in Forestry from Paul Smith’s College, The College of the Adirondacks. Continuing his education, Mark earned the Certified Arborist credential from the International Society of Arboriculture in 2008 and established MKS Arborist Services later that year. In March 2020, Mark earned the ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ), a credential held by only a handful of tree professionals in his region. Mark has a passion for arboriculture science and was recently appointed to the City of Erie Urban Forest Committee.